Klout Doubt?

By Dan Bergeron

Are you having Klout Doubt?  Worried about your Klout score?

So you have a high Klout score, congratulations! Does that mean you’re a celebrity?  No.  So, what does it mean? The idea of having a measurable score showing a degree of social influence is very cool, especially for marketing-minded folks who love numbers and ROI.  While Klout has been around for some time now, in the past few months it has gained much more attention. This attention has then raised many more questions about measuring social influence.

There is indeed a good deal of buzz around Klout, and in some cases users are getting competitive with one another about their Klout score.    Klout defines their scoring methodology as “…the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1-100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence.” The reality, though, is that it is very difficult to measure online influence.  It would be ideal if there was an exact, definitive number you could associate with social influence, and while Klout does an excellent job of attempting this, there still is some gray area.  For example, there are many celebrities who have millions of followers on twitter who have a high Klout score, but may not necessarily be influential in a particular industry or vertical.  They may get retweeted on tweets that are simple everyday things  that if the everyday ‘normal’ person tweeted about, people might just get annoyed – but their celebrity status gets them more retweets and engagement, therefore increasing their Klout score.  This is not to say celebrities are not influential by any means, but rather that if the common person’s twitter content was exactly the same, they would likely have a significantly lower Klout score.  I know some people who have under 200 followers on twitter with a Klout score below 30, and yet they are some of the most insightful and fascinating content creators I know.   Just because they have a low Klout score does not mean they are not an influential person.  It simply means their audience is very focused and specific.  Quality over quantity, right?

Now that we got the score covered, what’s your style?

Klout defines 16 different Klout styles, which essentially shows your personality online.  This is a classification of how you go about sharing and engaging with others online.  Whether you are more of a listener or someone who feeds mass amounts of information that gets retweeted, your Klout Style is an attempt to classify different types of social influence personalities.  This is something many still struggle to understand.  There are many users who post many different types of content and engage in many different ways with others.  It is hard to put one classification style on all your content.  Users change their content and engagement methods on a daily basis, usually without even realizing it.  Klout style is attempt to get an overall classification of your average content.  This can still be confusing to some, based on your Klout style frequently changing, even if your content remains the same.

Matrix defines 16 different Klout styles.

On a personal level, my Klout style has changed 4 times within the past month or so, while my content for the most part has remained the same.  I have seen somewhat of an increase in followers, but nothing overly significant.    It can be confusing how my Klout style can change from a “Specialist,” which is defined as focused and consistent, to a “Broadcaster” which is closer to the participating and sharing corner just in a matter of a month, without my content differing much at all.
If you are confused or have any doubts about your Klout score and Klout style, keep in mind that it is difficult to classify social influence.  Just because you have a low Klout score does not mean you aren’t influential to some people, and just because you have a high Klout score doesn’t necessarily mean you are a celebrity.  If your Klout style defines you as as a Listener or Broadcaster, does not mean that all of your audience sees you in that manner.    While Klout is an innovator in attempting to measure social influence, there is still a lot of gray area that’s hard to define.  It is more important to participate in conversations and engage with your audience than to worry if your score drops a few points or your style changes to the other side of the board.
Who do you see as one of your biggest social influencers?  Does their score reflect and style reflect how you personally see them?

Ana Silva O'Reilly December 2, 2011
same change happened to me and wasnt sure that broadcaster really meant, so thank you for clarifying! @mrsoaroundworld:twitter 
[...] My two favorite metrics are topics and style. The topic pages will be out soon. There are currently 16 different Klout styles. These two pieces of information attempt to gauge how you act and what you act [...]
Dan Bergeron June 23, 2011
Thanks for the comments Mark! Glad you were inspired you to investigate Klout a bit further! I'm @dangbergeron on twitter if you would like to connect.
mark goldberger June 23, 2011
Great article explaining Klout, its merits and its inconsistencies. In fact, your piece prompted me to check out my Klout score for the first time. Apparently, I am a 50 (Specialist), but my score has actually increased by 25 over the past month. Of course, I only joined twitter 6 weeks ago, so I guess this makes sense.
Dan Bergeron June 21, 2011
Thanks for the comments Buddy! I will check out the Klout widget for Chrome, sounds pretty interesting!
Buddy Scalera June 21, 2011
Good article. It's useful to understand where numbers come from, so that you can understand if they are contextually relevant. I'd like to see Klout pull data from other sources. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are a good start, but somewhat "easy" since they have absolute numbers in terms of followers. They seem to be processing retweets and hashtags as well, but it's not clear how they weight their algorithm. I've added the Klout widget to Chrome, so I can see my score and how it relates to other people. Interesting experiment. Buddy Scalera http://wordspicturesweb.com/2011/06/19/linkedin/
Dan Bergeron June 21, 2011
Yes, I'm aware Klout has been around since 2009, apologies if my wording was confusing. Glad we see it's analytics on the same level, and yes some might perhaps be a bit obsessive over their Klout score, when they should focus more on quality of their content!
mayhemstudios June 20, 2011
Dan, Klout has been around over two years now, not months :) I agree that Klout analytics aren't perfect. I'm using it as tool as an overview in combination with other tools. I think too many people are taking it way too serious.
Dan Bergeron June 20, 2011
Thanks for the feedback Harrison!
Harrison Kratz June 20, 2011
Good post Dan, I think the concept of measuring engagement and online influence is great, but I totally agree with you... Klout's system is still in its infancy and has a lot of room to grow. If anyone is interested in continuing the Klout discussion, I think Shonali Burke is hosting a #measurepr chat tomorrow with a Klout representative as a guest... should be interesting!
Dan Bergeron June 20, 2011
Nick- great to hear your side of things. I've not had the pleasure of meeting the Klout team yet, but I have no doubt they are an extraordinary team of bright minds. I admire their initiative and look forward to seeing how they continue to develop and evolve Klout! Thanks again for the comments!
Dan Bergeron June 20, 2011
Very valid point Cat, the blogging community can definitely have a lot of influence among one another, perhaps we will see Klout expand their inclusion of more platforms as time progresses. Thanks for the input!
Nick Cicero June 20, 2011
Honestly, I love the people who work at Klout...I was fortunate to have DJ'd a party at SXSW in their Klout Krib. They're a group of smart and energetic people passionate about social media. HOWEVER...I totally agree that this system is very much still in it's infancy...and can't be taken as gospel in all forms. After I was invited to the NASA Tweetup, my followers, mentions, retweets and clicked links all skyrocketed. With that, so did my Klout Score. Now it's dropped back a few points, yet I notice that the only category on Klout where I've spiked is in True Reach. This is a believable number to me, as I grew my network significantly through that tweetup experience.
Cat K June 20, 2011
What Klout doesn't measure is any influence you may have in the blogging community. I'm sure their product will grow to include more social media platform and better gauge online influence. Timely article! My post today is about true clout. http://blogs.momaha.com/2011/06/4418/

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